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writing for godot

The Mueller Report and The Third Article of Impeachment that Might Have Been

Written by Steven Jonas   
Tuesday, 21 January 2020 06:08

By Steven Jonas, M.D.


"Either this nation will kill racism or racism will kill this nation"  (S. Jonas, August, 2018)

Introduction: As the Impeachment struggle begins in the Senate, with McConnell/Trump struggling to avoid any kind of meaningful trial over the two articles of impeachment that the House has sent over and the Democrats struggling to do quite the opposite, in this column I visit (or re-visit) the possibility that there might have been a Third Article, for obstruction of justice during the Mueller investigation.  This presentation below of the evidence presented during the Mueller Hearing summarizes it in the voices of the dramatic questioners rather than the undramatic (to put it mildly) respondent.


Ah yes, The Mueller Report. I and many others have written much about it. It presented many significant findings by the Office of the Special Counsel headed by the former FBI Director, Robert Mueller, about various possibly criminal activities of the Trumpites both during the 2016 election campaign and then once ensconced in the White House. (And yes, conspiring with a foreign power to influence a U.S. election is a crime.) Of the former, it found 65-70 elements that amounted to collusion between the Trumpites and the Russian government to influence the 2016 election in Trump's favor. But, and it was a big BUT, they concluded that could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt (in court-room terms) that these actions, even when put together, amounted to a criminal conspiracy to commit same.

As for the other principal focus of their work, the President's obstruction of justice to the carrying out of the work of the Special Counsel, they found about 10 instances of the above, But since that danged opinion of the Dept. of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel, that a sitting president cannot be indicted for anything, Mueller would not come down on one side or another, in his Report, about whether the reported and recorded obstruction amounted to a crime. Nevertheless, there was "lots of stuff" in the Special Counsel's Report that could have laid the wood, as it were, to Trump and his folks. In fact, as is well-known the Mueller Team obtained a number of criminal indictments and convictions of Trump-team members for various crimes, including perjury. (Ever wonder why Trump refused to be interviewed himself? Duh!) And so, even with its limitations in what could actually be done with the "obstruction stuff," there was a whole lot in there.

But then came Trump's Roy Cohn, unfortunately packaged as the Attorney General of the United States (real title: General Attorney for Trump, Trumpism, and the Trumpublicans©). As I have said previously, "Katy Barr the Door." In brief, Barr first mis-represented what was in the Report, then held up its release, and then when he did release it, it was a heavily redacted version (which, as I have previously noted, we shall never see the full version unless a Democrat happens to win in 2020). For the public, Barr managed to suck all the air out of the Mueller Balloon, which was exactly his intention. When the redacted version was released sometime later (and it did contain some amazing information), general public interest in what is really in it had waned, which was exactly his intention.

But nevertheless, the second volume, on obstruction of justice, does contain some potentially impeachable stuff. How do we know that? Well, even the redacted version shows that to be the case. And there was Director Mueller's appearance before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees. It has generally been characterized by all sides as "undramatic." Yes, Director Mueller is a man of (very) few words. In my previous column on this subject, I presented selected questions from various Committee members and highlighted Director Mueller's VERY brief answers. In this column, I am going the other way round, presenting some of the key questions, highlighted, with the Director's answers in plain type, which, in comparison with the witness' responses in House Intelligence Committee's investigation of L'Affaire Ukrainya, reflect much better the complete lack of drama in his responses, as critical and revealing as they are in their content. It is those questions, rather than the Director's responses, that highlight what is in the Report.

The Hearings transcripts from which these excerpts was taken are, for the Judiciary Committee here: , and for the Intelligence Committee here: .

And so, first from the Judiciary Committee.

Chairman Jerrold Nadler: The president has repeatedly claimed that your report found there was no obstruction and that it completely and totally exonerated him, but that is not what your report said, is it?

Director Mueller: Correct. That is not what the report said.

NADLER: Now, reading from page 2 of Volume 2 of your report that's on the screen, you wrote, quote, "If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment," close quote. Now does that say there was no obstruction?


NADLER: So the report did not conclude that he did not commit obstruction of justice, is that correct [emphasis added]?

MUELLER: That is correct.

NADLER: And what about total exoneration? Did you actually totally exonerate the president?


NADLER: Now, in fact, your report expressly states that it does not exonerate the president.

MUELLER: It does.

NADLER: And your investigation actually found, quote, "multiple acts by the president that were capable of exerting undue influence over law enforcement investigations, including the Russian interference and obstruction investigations." Is that correct?

MUELLER: Correct.

. . . . .

NADLER: In fact, you were talking about incidents, quote, "in which the president sought to use his official power outside of usual channels," unquote, to exert undue influence over your investigations, is that right?

MUELLER: That's correct.

NADLER: Now, am I correct that on page 7 of Volume 2 of your report, you wrote, quote, "The president became aware that his own conduct was being investigated in an obstruction of justice inquiry. At that point, the president engaged in a second phase of conduct, involving public attacks on the investigation, non-public efforts to control it, and efforts in both public and private to encourage witnesses not to cooperate with the investigation," close quote. [SJ: Note the evidence of witness tampering, also a Federal crime, referred to there.]

. . . . .

Rep. LOFGREN: So, you wrote on -- in Volume 1 that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion. You've also described in your report that the then-Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, shared with the Russian operative, Kilimnik, the campaign strategy for winning Democratic votes in Midwestern states and internal polling data of the campaign. Isn't that correct?

MUELLER: Correct.. . . . .

LOFGREN: . . . . .

Did your investigation find that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from one of the candidates winning?


LOFGREN: And which candidate would that be?

MUELLER: Well, it would be Trimp -- Trump. [Oooops!]. . . . .

LOFGREN: Now, the Trump campaign wasn't exactly reluctant to take Russian help. You wrote it expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts, isn't that correct?

MUELLER: That's correct.

And now we turn to excerpts from his testimony before the House Intelligence Committee.

Chairman SCHIFF: Thank you, Director Mueller. Your report describes a sweeping and systematic effort by Russia to influence our presidential election. Is that correct?

MUELLER: That is correct.

SCHIFF: And during the course of this Russian interference in the election, the Russians made outreach to the Trump campaign, did they not?

MUELLER: Yes, that occurred.

SCHIFF: In fact, the campaign welcomed the Russian help, did they not?

MUELLER: I think we have we report in our in the report indications that that occurred, yes.

SCHIFF: Numerous times during the campaign the president praised the releases of the Russian-hacked emails through WikiLeaks?

MUELLER: That did occur.. . . . .

Representative HIMES: Director, your report opens with two statements of remarkable clarity and power. The first statement is one that is as of today not acknowledged by the president of the United States, and that is, quote, "the Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion". The second statement remains controversial amongst members of this body, same page on your report, and I quote, "the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome." Do I have that statement right?

Mueller: I believe so.

HIMES: Director, who did the Russian social media campaign ultimately intend to benefit, Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump?

MUELLER: Donald Trump.

Representative SWALLWELL: Thank you. Director Mueller, as a prosecutor you would agree that if a witness or suspect lies or obstructs or tampers with witnesses or destroys evidence during an investigation that generally that conduct can be used to show a consciousness of guilt. Would you agree with that?


SWALWELL: Let's go through the different people associated with the Trump campaign and this investigation who lied to you and other investigators to cover up their disloyal and unpatriotic conduct. (And he then proceeded to do that, naming Mike Flynn, Michael Cohen, George Papadopoulos, Paul Manafort. Now, Roger Stone, one of Trump's longest-lived advisors, can be added to that list.)

SWALWELL: And your investigation was hampered by Trump campaign official's use of encryption communications. Is that right?

MUELLER: We believe that to be the case.

SWALWELL: You also believe to be the case that your investigation was hampered by deletion of electronic messages. Is that correct?

MUELLER: It would be, yes. Generally, any case would be if those kinds of communications are are used.

. . . . .

SWALWELL: Did you want to interview the president?


SWALWELL: Director Mueller, on January 1, 2017, through March 2019, Donald Trump met with Vladimir Putin in person 6 times, called him 10 times and exchanged 4 letters with him. Between that time period, how many times did you meet with Donald Trump?

MUELLER: I'm not going to I'm not going to get into that.

SWALWELL: He did not meet with you in person. Is that correct?

MUELLER: He did not.

SWALWELL: Why is it so important that witnesses cooperate and tell the truth in an investigation like this?

MUELLER: Because the testimony of the witness goes to the heart of just about any criminal case you have.


And so, as I said back in August, here are some excerpts from Director Mueller's Congressional testimony and the questions that led to his answers, unfiltered by anyone, that highlight some of the major findings of his Report. It is on those findings that the focus should be, as the full case is developed for removing from office, either by impeachment or the upcoming election, the first President in U.S. history who, along with the Trumpublicans (tm) in Congress, presents, as a clear and present danger, the institution of a 21st century form of fascism in this nation.

And so, further, it is clear that there could easily have been a Third Article of Impeachment, or perhaps even two more, based on this testimony about the content of the "Mueller Report" alone. But as it was handled by the Master Water-Muddier William Barr and presented to the public just that one time, by the totally underwhelming witness Robert Mueller (just compare him with the series very dramatic witnesses on the L'Affaire Ukrainya), there was no way the Speaker Pelosi, a master strategist, among other things, could have had fashioned a Third Article out of the Mueller Report, as much as the evidence to support one is there.

However, during the Presidential Campaign, there is no reason why the Democratic candidate could not bring it back in. Let's indeed hope that that happens. Could make for some very interesting Debate subject-matter. That is one reason of course, that Trump is already telling us that he will not be debating, that is unless it/they appear on TrumpTV, otherwise known as the Fox"News" Channel).


An earlier version of this column was published at: your social media marketing partner
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